(Edited from AP) When our family got a new cell phone plan, our 17-year-old had one priority: a smart phone with access to the Web.

Being a pair of old fogies, my husband and I immediately said no.

(Edited from AP) When our family got a new cell phone plan, our 17-year-old had one priority: a smart phone with access to the Web.

Being a pair of old fogies, my husband and I immediately said no.

“Too much money!” I said. “Why does a teenager need a smart phone anyway? Go play ball in the street like you did when you were 9!”

But like any teenager on a mission, he eventually wore us down. He offered to pay for the Internet access for a year, in advance, with money he earned at an afterschool job. He argued that, among other things, he would use the phone for school.

School work? On a phone? We got a good laugh out of that one. Until the night he was working on a history paper and needed to know the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis. I said I thought it was 1962, but told him he’d better look it up to be sure.

“Look it up” on a smart phone works like this: He put the phone in front of his face, said “1962” out loud, and a list of important events from 1962 appeared on the screen, including the Cuban Missile Crisis, compliments of voice-activated Google search.

My reaction was something like what I imagine Alexander Graham Bell’s to have been when he successfully made the first phone call.

I then started to notice that whenever we were away from home, he was indeed using the phone not just to connect with friends, but also to deal with e-mails from teachers, to communicate with other kids about group projects and afterschool activities, and because he’s a senior, even to respond to messages from colleges looking for missing test scores and other information.

He also uses the phone to get directions, figure out tips, translate foreign words and periodically announce the latest news roundup.

I have to say, in some ways, I welcomed it. It was better to have him happily staying in touch with his friends back home than to have him complaining about being away from his buds, stuck in a hotel with his parents.

Besides, his ready access to Facebook afforded me one crucial perk: He could update my status, too.

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